US - Finished weights are not offsetting lower cattle slaughter numbers in the US, leading market analysts have gauged.
Calculations from Dr Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics and Len Steiner of Steiner Consulting have posted average fed weights this year at 0.1 per cent lower than for 2013.
This has become a recipe for high beef and steer prices as beef production runs at five per cent lower than last year.
They say a plateau in cattle weights has been noticeable since the removal of the growth promoting beta-agonist Zilmax from cattle diets last August.
Whereas the hog market is seeing higher weights as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus hurts production, feedlots are turning lighter cattle to market.
Explaining the typical weight lift in times of short supply, Mr Steiner said: “In previous years, producers have been able to offset reductions in slaughter numbers by increasing the weight of livestock coming to market.”
However, he added that June and July seasonally offer higher weights.
Meanwhile, beef production is down as analysts report booming exports, leaving the domestic retail market trapped between strong demand and tight supply.
As livestock figures remain tight, beef retail prices have set records, along with feeder cattle, which broke the $200 per hundredweight threshold last week.
This week has seen no let off with feeders up a further five cents.
Tuesday’s Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed with prices for August at $205.18.
August feeders leapt almost $3.50 on the previous week and September feeders finished up $2.75 on the previous Friday at $200.87.
June live cattle remained buoyant at around the $140/hundredweight mark. The October contract finished the week at $144.5.